The staff at Mann Library are always ready for a challenge, whether it’s looking up an obscure reference, finding an out-of-print journal for a faculty member, or researching Ezra Cornell’s farm equipment.
But they have never been challenged quite like they were Feb. 19, when they gathered in the library’s Dean’s Room to participate in their own version of the Olympics.
Five teams – with each team’s members wearing bandanas and wristbands of one of the five colors of the Olympic rings – competed in five contests: a Ping-Pong ball toss, from the room’s balcony to catchers down below; a paper airplane distance contest, with competitors flying their planes from the balcony; a book-sorting competition that called for librarian skills; a cup-stacking contest that took team coordination; and a race to empty tissue boxes filled with Ping-Pong balls and fastened around competitors’ waists.
The Mann Library Olympics was organized by the staff’s Fun Committee, which was formed last summer to create events that will help library staff interact and get to know each other in a relaxed setting. For this event, team members were assigned by the committee so that each team had representation from across the library’s units.
“Much of our work is done on computers, with each of us focusing on our own separate projects,” said committee member Betsy Elswit. “The Fun Committee organizes opportunities for us to feel a part of a team, part of the larger organization.”
Elswit said that most of their events have been simple, such as organizing a lunch or planning other activities as a group. The Mann Library Olympics was suggested by committee member Mel Jensen, who participated in a much more extensive version at Kent State University in Ohio, where a multiday staff Olympics has been held quadrennially for the past 16 years.
The committee started working on the Mann Library Olympics after winter break. Committee member Matt Ryan produced a video of Mary Ochs, director of Mann Library, declaring the games open (Ochs was unable to attend). Ryan, Lianna May and Noah Hamm served as event announcers; Hamm also handcrafted the wooden torch that a representative from the gold-winning team held aloft during the closing ceremony.
Mel Jensen’s husband, Jon, made podiums for the medal winners, and Elswit created the logo – based on the Pyeongchang Olympics logo – used for the gold, silver and bronze medals.
Each event was scored, with the total points determining team standings. The bronze medal went to Team Red, the silver to Team Blue, and the Gold to Team Green. Representing these teams on the podium were, respectively, Sarah J. Wright, Sandy Conrad and Daisy Wiley.
When asked how she liked the Mann Olympics, Wiley said in typical Olympic fashion: “It was great. I was proud to do my part in representing my team.”